TUC Digital Lab – ‘Adapting to the new normal for trade unions’ includes Bectu case study

The TUC is circulating a new report that they have drafted outlining how unions are “adapting to the new normal for trade unions”

“The last 18 months have been a time of drastic change. Along with the rest of society, unions have had to adapt to the pandemic and the effects of the response to it.

There has been a lot of good practice applied, and a lot of new ground broken in digital transformation. All unions have positive stories to tell about how they have coped. But there is a big opportunity for us in establishing common practice as well as isolated examples of good practice. Our new report aims to contribute to that learning.”

It includes this case study about Bectu’s work during the early stages of the Covid19 lockdown:

“Freelance entertainment technicians were initially denied support when the pandemic closed their industry. Bectu had early successes in campaigning for self-employed grants and pressuring employers to furlough PAYE freelancers. The union saw over 1,500 new members, as well as increased engagement with existing members.

Once they moved on to Zoom, branches that had previously found it hard to get people along to meetings started seeing regular large attendances, driven also by the involvement of members who had not previously been able to join in person.

The union wanted to find a way for these members to collaborate, to give them a positive experience and help cement their interest in further activism.

They undertook a crowdsourced authoring project to produce extensive safety guidance for the industry, addressing members’ concern for a safe reopening as soon as possible. Over long zoom meeting with shared documents, hundreds of workers dropped in hour by hour to discuss their own specialist roles and how each could be performed safely.

A 101-page manual of practical guidance and template risk assessments was drawn up, which was widely taken up by employers and insurers, helping achieve an earlier reopening. The collaborative process and its results helped members feel a stronger sense of ownership, moving on from seeing the union as a service into something they could take a more active role in.”

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